“Her mom probably cried when she left for Kindergarten and I celebrated with my friends by going out to brunch.”
I picked up this (mis)quote somewhere along the road (I think it’s from Jen Hatmaker and I think it’s from her blog, or her book Seven. Forgive me for my terrible sourcing here.)
I’ve repeated it with friends during friendly banter about how ready I was for my children to go off to school.
I’m one of THOSE moms, I said, the ones who will drop them off at school and head for the coffee shop with a grin on my face.
And then came the night before Kindergarten. As I emerged from the bathroom after brushing my teeth Kel signaled for me to follow him into the kid’s bedroom.
“This is the last night we have two preschoolers, she starts Kindergarten tomorrow… We have a school kid!”
We squinted at each other in the dim light and exchanged some sort of “holy crap” type look complete with raised eyebrows.
She was going to school, for real school, not preschool but like big, huge, out in the world school.
And then I started to cry, and panic, and wish that we had some paper bags in the house so I could hyperventilate properly. (Kel offered to get me a plastic bag to which I responded “are you trying to kill me?!?”)
We headed to bed to chat about it all more and I started sobbing to him.
“I get it! I get why Moms cry when they send their kids to school! It’s not because they can’t stand to be without them for a while, it’s because this world is so damn scary and mean and we won’t be there! I need five more years to talk to her about All. The. Things!”
“Like how to be resilient when people are mean to her! And how to show love to a kid who everyone else is being mean to! And how she needs to believe what we teach her about who she is and who God says she is so if someone teases her for being too busy or picking her nose she will know that what they say doesn’t matter because people suck Kel! And OH MY GOD someone is going to offer her drugs like tomorrow, I just know it, we haven’t talked about drugs. I need five more years, I won’t be there! She is NOT READY for the big world.”
I am not ready to let the world have a crack at her. Not yet.
Because guys? The world can be so mean, so so mean and she is sweet, she is all kitties and big brown eyes and almost too many hugs and kisses every single day.
I don’t want careless people to break that.
Do you remember how scary school can be? And how mean kids are? I may as well toss her to the wolves as send her to Kindergarten!
I know she will come home crying and I know that we will have 17,842 more talks about life as it’s happening, complete with names, faces and context.
But Kindergarten day was dawning and I felt suddenly obscenely unprepared.
Still, the sun rose and we pulled on her skort and her polo. I did her hair in pigtails WITH little braids in them, completely exhausting my updo skills.
We walked down to the fantastic Montessori school and I kept breathing as we stood amongst a crowd of other excited buzzing parents and children.
When her teacher walked out I eyeballed her and thought something along the lines of: you better cherish her little heart and see how wonderful she is or I will break you in half…(just kidding Ms Jennifer… if you’re reading this I’m sorry and I swear I will rock snack duty next week.)
It’s like this:
“Making the decision to have a child – it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ” ~Elizabeth Stone
This quote nails it.
Suddenly you wake up and you send your unprepared heart to Kindergarten, and it’s all exposed and out there. You can’t swoop in to protect it and past experience tells you that there’s a 1000% chance it will be broken time and time again.
You think of every mean thing that happened to you and try frantically to protect your child from enduring the same. You know broken is beautiful and that she has to learn to endure heartache, to believe in who she is because she’s had to defend it, to see the world through other people’s eyes because she has access to them…
And you want to believe that God has her, but your life tells you that his “in control” and your “in control” are worlds apart. He will allow hard things to happen to her, the bitter and the sweet are coming, neither of which call to question his power or love… somehow.
So you send your heart to Kindergarten and you make peace with the lump in your throat and the look of terror on your face. You remind yourself that you are new at being a school-kid mom and that you have much to learn as well.
And you will learn, both of you, and it will be some sort of okay even though it will constantly take you by surprise.
And you realize the morning of Kindergarten that not only do you have no idea how to spell the world, that you grossly misjudged how it would feel to send her through those doors to face the big world, to let it have access to her.
See how I spelled it wrong? I clearly don’t get Kindergarten. Stupid german words.
Oh world, be gentle
Oh God shape her, May I always be her safe place second only to you as you are the only one who has staying power on this earth.
Oh Noelle, be brave, be unapologetically yourself, be a good friend, a passionate learner.
Oh God… be with her in that classroom, preserve that heart so she can show the world how much beauty you jam packed in there…
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